The rage mob comes for a New York gun store

AP Photo/Andrew Selsky

So far, there’s no indication that the suspect in the Buffalo shooting was prohibited from purchasing a firearm, but that’s not stopping a flood of outrage from being directed at the small gun shop in upstate New York where the 18-year old bought a Bushmaster rifle.

Robert Donald, the owner of Vintage Firearms in Endicott, New York, told the New York Post that he doesn’t recall details of the transaction, but that if any red flags had popped up, either in a background check or his interactions with the suspect, he wouldn’t have proceeded with the sale.

“He didn’t stand out,” he said of the teen. “Because if he did, I would’ve never sold him the gun.

“I don’t understand why an 18-year-old would even do this,” Donald said. “I know I didn’t do anything wrong, but I feel terrible about it.”

The rage mob doesn’t care about Donald’s feelings. Or rather, no matter how terrible he may feel, they want him feel even worse.

The Vintage Firearms Facebook page is now filled with comments from people accusing Donald of being complicit in the Buffalo massacre because he sold the firearm Gendron used.

“You sell assault weapons to teenagers. You sell weapons to violent White supremacists. You enabled this,” one commenter said.

“You trade in death. I hope it haunts you for the rest of your life,” another said.

… A sign in front of his shop said Vintage Firearms would be closed until May 22, but it didn’t indicate if that was a planned closure or if it was prompted by Saturday’s shooting.

Again, there’s no indication whatsoever that Donald did anything illegal or even inappropriate with the gun sale, but logic isn’t exactly the rage mob’s strong suit. If New York wanted to try to ban gun sales to under-21s, for example, Democrats could have easily included that in the 2013 SAFE Act, which did impose a ban on various features of modern sporting rifles while imposing registration requirements on all gun owners.

And we may very well see New York Democrats try to impose such a ban now, though whether or not any age restriction will be upheld by the courts in New York is another story. New York Gov. Kathy Hochul will be unveiling several new gun control proposals today, and while the original impetus for the legislation is the Supreme Court’s pending decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, Hochul is almost certain to announce a bill or two that’s designed as a response to the shooting in Buffalo as well.

Hochul had scheduled the gun control announcement before the Buffalo shooting. The governor, speaking at a briefing over the weekend in Buffalo, said Saturday’s incident makes it more important than ever to close loopholes in New York’s laws.

“We are doing everything we can to ensure that our laws are tight, they’re ironclad, to ensure that our law enforcement have the resources they need,” Hochul said.

Hochul told reporters that she wants to expand the state’s existing ban on some assault weapons to include what are called AOWs, or any other weapon. She said some of these guns are functionally assault weapons.

… Hochul said Tuesday’s announcement will also include changes that could be made to New York’s laws to address an expected ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that could strike down New York’s restrictions on carrying a concealed weapon.

While New York gun owners and Second Amendment advocates brace for another attack on their right to keep and bear arms, the owner of Vintage Firearms also has to be concerned with a gun control law that’s already on the books in the state. Shortly before resigning in disgrace, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation empowering citizens and the state’s Attorney General to sue gun makers and gun sellers when a firearm is used in a crime. This attempt to hold the firearms industry financially responsible for the actions of criminals by using the state’s public nuisance law as an end run around the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act will almost certainly be directed not only at the company that made the Bushmaster rifle sold to the suspect (Remington sold the brand as part of its bankruptcy proceedings in September of 2020), but to the store that made the sale as well. Whether or not the law is upheld after its first legal test remains to be seen, but if the rage mob doesn’t put Donald out of business, my guess is New York Attorney General Letitia James and a posse of gun control groups will try to finish the job in court.